Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Last - Michael John Grist

  2015; 248 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Zombie Apocalypse.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    It was undoubtedly the best evening of Amo's life.  First there was dinner with Lara, the waitress of his dreams but who he felt was way too pretty to look his way.  That was topped off by a pleasant roll in the hay with her, even though the doctors had told him that such excitement was likely to kill him.

     It’s a pity, then, that what followed was the worst morning of his’s life.  Something bizarre happened overnight, and now it seems everyone in New York City – with the exception of Amo – has been turned a zombie.  And that’s a lot of undead, all looking for a very limited supply of brains for breakfast.  Which is bad news for pets, stray dogs, and alley cats, none of which have been “turned”.

    Plus Amo, with his alive-and-functioning brain.  And who seems to be a zombie-magnet.

What’s To Like...
    The Last is a Zombie Apocalypse tale, set in the US in 2018.  For the most part, it is told in the first person POV (Amo’s), particularly the first half, where he’s occupied with learning what works and doesn’t work against the undead, and having enough weaponry to keep them at bay.  The reader will learn a bunch of practical life-preserving tips, in case he should ever find himself in a similar situation.

    There aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of (if you’ve met one zombie, you’ve met them all).  Amo is a pleasantly believable protagonist.  He develops his zombie-killing tactics by trial-and-error, and quite often he misses when he shoots at them.  I could personally relate to his painful lesson about a rifle’s recoil.

    The writing is both lighthearted and thought-provoking.  There are a ton of Zombie Apocalypse books out there, but I liked the innovative “cause” of this one, and the unique “best way” to deal with the undead.  Michael John Grift’s wit is also a plus, such as the Yangtze online-shopping website.  There are lots of kewl music references in all sorts of genres, and music plays a key role in the storyline, although I never did fully fathom exactly how.

    There is some cussing, booze, “adult situations”, and a couple spliffs (see Kewlest New Word, below) get rolled and smoked.  I was left with a couple unanswered questions besides the role of music, the most notable of which are listed in the comments due to spoiler considerations.

      The writing is good.  You’ll bond with Amo as he tries to come to grips with his situation, and even have some empathy for the zombies, who have no idea why they were “turned” without any warning and for seemingly no cause.  This is not a standalone novel, but it ends at a logical place, with this stage of the tale being satisfactorily completed.

Kewlest New Word ...
Spliff (n.) : a joint; a marijuana cigarette.

Kindle Details...
    The Last sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  The sequel, The Lost, is the same price.  Michael John Grist has a number of other e-book offerings, all in the $0.99-$4.99 price range.

    “You’re lucky you’re alive.  You know how many people out there who’re  immune?  Do you have any idea?”
    “No idea.  I didn’t see any.  Maybe her?”
    “Maybe her.  On top of that there’s me and there’s you.  I’ve not seen any others, Amo, not any at all.  Every live video feed I saw got corrupted in seconds, because the people filming it were infected.  It’s the most virulent thing ever.  It’s like that cat in the box, the second you open the box to see if it’s alive or not, it drags you in so you’re inside the box too.”  (loc. 658)

    I sigh and lie back.  The tea and bolognese can be breakfast.  I look up at the sky.  Of course it’s the same sky.  These are the same stars, though the shooting ones aren’t.
    “They’re not really stars,” my dad told us once.  “They’re just little bites of interstellar dust, or the screws and nuts that come off falling satellites, burning up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.”
    This awed us even more.  That there was a layer of sky up there so hot that it burned, that interstellar dust was reaching out to our little planet across the gulf of space, then falling down upon us like a fine rain, like fairy dust.  (loc. 3008)

 “Damn the zombies, full speed to the West!”  (loc. 1963)
    There were a couple slow spots for me, most notably in the first portion of the book where a lot of pages are spent detailing Amo killing zombie after zombie after zombie.  But that’s probably unescapable in any zombie apocalypse story; it wouldn’t be a tale of terror unless there were zillions of them to deal with.

    And it’s also probably inherent in any book where, for most of the pages, we’re dealing with a single character, stranded and all alone (zombies don’t count as characters) in the world.  The present hit movie, Martian, faces this same challenge.  So did the book/movie I Am Legend, reviewed here.

    But I quibble.  Amo’s drawn-out loneliness serves to emphasize his plight, and if Michael John Grist had made it shorter, I’d probably be griping that it hadn’t been developed enough.

    7½ Stars.  The Last is my third zombie book already this year, and this is not a genre I normally read.  I don’t know if this is an anomaly or a trend.  Add 2 Stars if you’re a zombie enthusiast; I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book.

1 comment:

Hamilcar Barca said...

SPOILER ALERT!! Why did the zombies leave Amo alone after he shot himself? Why would music have any effect on a zombie? What possible scientific connection to the zombie apocalypse would there be between Amo and Lara getting it on?